In today’s modern society, it is a big challenge to instill culture and tradition within the youth who are readily exposed to the rest of the world. Luckily, the Scw’exmx Community Health Services Society has taken it upon themselves to assist Indigenous parents through their program; Bringing Tradition Home. The 9-week program will serve as a tool for parents to navigate through a modern urban society, all the while preserving traditional values and cultural practices through their children.

Aboriginal parenting is based on the seven grandfather teachings; love, respect, courage, truth, humility, wisdom, honesty. May George, facilitator for Bringing Tradition Home, said that these are the values that the program keeps in mind.

“It’s culturally based and met the needs of our community so we started running it back in 2014,” said George.

“Before COVID we were running it twice a year, mostly during both spring and fall time.”

Currently there are six registered parents for the program this year. The most Scw’exmx has ever had was 12, pre-COVID.

“When we were advertising the program this year on our Facebook page, past participants were commenting on there, saying ‘this program is amazing’ and ‘people should really take it.”

“I’ve had a participant who’s taken it three times and everytime she takes it she says ‘May, I learned something new and I’m in a better place now with raising my children because of the tools I’ve gained through this program.”

The program began this year on May 11 and will be running until July 13 every Wednesdays at the Scw’exmx Community Health youth centre along Chapman St.

“Every session is three hours long and it’s full of incredible information,” said George “We have DVD’s, handouts, take home reflections, story teachings, and teachings by our elder.”

The sessions are run by two facilitators, May George and Elizabeth Perdok-Waboose. There is also a knowledge keeper or an elder who assists in the classes, Cathy Jameson.

“The elder shares knowledge about tradition and culture in every session,” George explained.

“The knowledge keeper is rich in culture and she is a key person to the program. Every session is different so whatever the topic is then the elder does her presentation.”

There are a variety of activities done during a session including film discussions, and appearances by guest speakers.

“We do some hands on activities like arts and crafts,” George added.

“There is one we do where we look at the four gifts each children in these parents’ lives bring to them.”

The group watches videos on mothering and fathering and afterwards discuss their thoughts and main takeaways from the viewing. In their fourth session, parents were delighted with a visit from an expert speaking on brain development.

At the very last session on July 13, Scw’exmx intends to host a celebration where the parents will be recognized for completing the program.

“If they fulfill majority of the 27 total hours of the program then they will receive the certificate,” George explained.

“It just shows our appreciation for the fact that they’ve committed to the program. We ask them to invite their families and friends to witness them receiving the certificate.”

Once the program ends, Scw’exmx is hoping to run another one in the fall.

“If we have enough interest then we run the program,” said George. “It takes a lot of time and commitment to do this program; we coordinate, we start doing the calendar, and we start to advertise to get enough numbers to run a successful program.”